This summer HDL is hosting three separate studios here in Helsinki, each focusing on a topic that is critical to maintaining the wellbeing of Finland. Education, Sustainability, and Ageing are huge topics and there's no pretense that the studios will magically "solve" these issues. Rather, the goal of these studios is act as rocket fuel in the process of developing a strategic understanding of the issue. HDL Studios are part of a longer arc of work that began with the writing the Challenge Briefings last fall and will continue through this fall, if not longer.
HDL Studios are about making sure we ask the right questions. It's more about inspiration and insight than truth, as Rama Gheerawo eloquently put it.
Each studio is a group of eight people who've been assembled to represent key perspectives on the problem. For the education studio we have people with very deep experience in founding and running schools, extensive classroom teaching, as well as health, developmental psychology, learning, and media, and two designers with backgrounds in strategic work. Their task is to help the Ministry of Education think about its work in new ways, particularly with regards to Finland's dropouts.
In shaping the team HDL has been careful to look for people who have different points of view but are also able to suspend disbelief and engage other ways of thinking. It's probably also worth mentioning that for us the process of building the team was an intensely social one. Not only do the studio members have to be at the top of their field and able to collaborate well, but this specific group of people needs to gel socially. From the intensity of the work over the past couple days it seems like this is exactly what has happened.
Without further ado, the HDL Studio on Education:
- Dr. Jane Holmes Bernstein. Senior Associate in Psychology/Neuropsychology, Children's Hospital Boston
- Maja Kecman. Senior Associate, Helen Hamlyn Centre, Royal College of Art
- Lai Cheng Lim, Principal of the Raffles Institution, Singapore
- Ann McCormick. CEO, Learning Friends Inc. in California's Bay Area
- Roope Mokka. Development Director of Demos Helsinki
- Linda Nathan. Founding Headmaster of Boston Arts Academy
- Darrel Rhea. CEO of Cheskin Added Value in California's Bay Area
- Dr. Juha Teperi. Programme Director, Ministry of Social Affairs and Health
The team is here in Helsinki for just one week. In this incredibly limited window of opportunity we've pre-arranged a schedule for them that is front-loaded with opportunities to hear from local stakeholders before transitioning into synthesis mode, which is where they're at right now as Thursday winds down.
Monday was focused on macro-level issues here in Finland. From the socioeconomic development of the country to the realities of multiculturalism in schools, it was an intense and diverse brain dump of information. The next day we visited a school in Helsinki to see what education looks like on the ground. Wednesday and Thursday were intense days of discussion and now everyone is working in smaller groups to bring the salient thoughts into focus. Tomorrow afternoon the studio will share their thoughts with guests from Helsinki and Brussels and then we'll continue that discussion over dinner.
Meals are not to be underestimated in a process like this. Since the team has precious little time together, meals are very important opportunities to change the tenor of the conversation and let ideas percolate in a different way. At one point on Tuesday I counted seventeen cups and beverage containers on the table with eight chairs around it—a messy table is a productive table.